After more than 89 years of caring for the people of Middlesbrough, Carter Bequest Hospital closed its ward doors on 31 March 2015. However, the GP surgery which resides there remains operational.
All the services provided by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at Carter Bequest Hospital have now been relocated.
The speech and language service has moved to North Ormesby Health Village along with Middlesbrough’s Stroke Association. Redcar and Cleveland’s Stroke Association has moved to Redcar Primary Care Hospital along with the trust’s stroke rehabilitation services. The GP surgery – The Cambridge Medical Group – remains in the building.
The decision to close the hospital element came after a consultation led by South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group called IMProVE which was held in 2014. For more details on IMProVE click here.
The video below recalls the history of the building and fond memories of those who worked there and those who used the hospital services:
Sometime around the turn of the 19th/20th century the former mayor of Middlesbrough and Justice of the Peace, Alderman Thomas Carter bought some land on Cambridge Road.
Thomas Carter wanted to build a hospital for the residents of the town after witnessing a lot of poor health among the population of Middlesbrough. But he died in 1906, before his dream would come to fruition. However, in his will he made a bequest, which over the next 20 years had accumulated to around £100,000 – several million pounds by today’s value.
The funds had grown to such an extent that it had been sufficient not only to build and equip the new hospital but also to adequately endow it. Having cost £22,635 to build, The Carter Bequest Hospital was opened on 3 January 1926, by Sir Hugh Bell and marked the fruition of years of anticipation and effort.
As this was over twenty years before the NHS came into being in 1948, Carter Bequest was not dependant on public subscriptions – it was a private hospital.
When the building was completed it was a sensation, because of the many novel features it contained. The building was a substantial construction with many large windows to allow as much sunlight in as possible. Verandas were provided for each of the four 10-bed wards, so that patients could be wheeled out to benefit from the open fresh air. The whole building was illuminated by plenty of electric lights including one over each bed, novel features in 1926.
The 1940s and the early years of the NHS
In documentation, available to view in Teesside Archives, accounts for the year ending 31 December 1945, showed the average cost for each of the 1,118 inpatients who were hospitalised there during the year, was £7 18s 5d.
The same Annual Report and Balance Sheet 1946 showed the average length of stay was 13.2 days and the hospital spent £1,843 4s 3d during the year on provisions for the staff and patients.
The NHS was established in 1948 and Carter Bequest Hospital was used to treat and care for more long-term patients. Later on it also opened a maternity ward and also specialised in skin ailments such as psoriasis.
The 1980s to present day
In 1981 the new South Cleveland Hospital – now The James Cook University Hospital – was opened and services at other local hospitals in the area, Hemlington and Poole, were transferred to the new site, but Carter Bequest stayed open, partly helped by a strong campaign against the potential closure in 1984.
The maternity services at Carters moved to South Cleveland in 1987 and about a decade later a decision was taken that the services provided in two of the main hospitals – Middlesbrough General and the North Riding Infirmary – should be moved to The James Cook University Hospital, making the latter the single site for acute hospital in the area. The building work was completed in 2003 when the plan came to fruition but Carter Bequest remained open and over the final twelve years was a community hospital.
The wards were used by consultants from The James Cook University Hospital, GPs and community matrons in the Middlesbrough area. They predominantly provided rehabilitation and palliative care for local people close to their homes. The wards could, however, provide care for any adult patients for a wide range of conditions.
The hospital had a dedicated team of staff including nursing staff, physiotherapists and occupational therapists to ensure patients receive individualised, holistic care package of the highest quality care tailored to their needs. The staff aimed to actively involve their patients’ carers and families to ensure that they meet the needs of all involved.
The services within Carter Bequest included specialist stroke rehabilitation, general rehabilitation, assessment of present and future care needs, diagnostics, drug initiation and administration (including intravenous), blood transfusions, pain control and palliative care.
Through medical advances and the fact that the population is ageing, the local GPs (clinical commissioning group) believed it was better to invest the funds they have at their disposal in providing community care to patients in their own home rather than in hospital buildings and therefore, after a period of consultation, took the tough decision to close Carter Bequest Hospital.
After 89 years of caring for the people of Middlesbrough, Carter Bequest closed its ward doors on 31 March 2015.
Below are anecdotes of patients, staff and locals who remember Carter Bequest Hospital fondly.
Many thanks to contributors to the Memories of Middlesbrough Facebook page for the added publicity and several excerpts below come directly from there.
If you have any memories that you’d like to share here, please contact the public relations team by clicking here.
“I was a police constable in Cleveland Police and in the mid 1980’s I was the local beat officer for the area around Carter Bequest Hospital. I was on duty the day Princess Diana came to the town and visited the hospital. I’m seen here in my police uniform next our royal guest. I was to chaperone her on her ‘walkabout’ when she was greeted by the crowds. I was chuffed to bits to get this job as you can imagine.
Unknown to me, a lady, who took this photo, walked into Middlesbrough Police Station a few days later and asked did anyone know the policeman in the photo. Of course they did because that was my ‘home station’.
The lady left the photo and asked could it be passed on as she thought I would like it and left without leaving any name or contact details. I have never traced her to this day to thank her.
The photo stood on my parents’ mantelpiece in pride of place until the day they died and it now stands on windowsill in my study. Happy memories!”
“I was the paper boy there from 1966 to 1969. I sold papers, cigarettes and sweets to the patients in their beds. I worked for Adams paper shop at 369 Linthorpe Road and cycled to the hospital before and after school. I also had a paper round I did before I went to the hospital. I got up at 6 each morning.”
“As a child, our family house from 1962-75 shared the back fence with the very extensive hospital grounds and on a number of occasions had to climb over to rescue a ball that sailed over the fence. I was always terrified that I would get into trouble from the hospital staff. Highly unlikely, but as a child it seemed all too possible.”
“Worked there as a newly qualified pharmacist dispensing and making up creams. Remember it as a friendly and comfortable atmosphere.”
“Had both my babies there in 1977 and 1979. Lovely memories and fantastic staff. I couldn’t have been better looked after. It’s such a shame it’s closing.”
“I was born there in March 1968 then had my first child there in February 1986.”
“I was born there in April 1968 and was booked in to have my first baby there in January 1988 but they decided to close the maternity unit earlier than expected, so I had to go to Parkside”
“I went there on November 11th 1972 – my wedding day – to visit my husband’s cousin who couldn’t make it to the wedding”
“My first child was born there in 1980. It was a lovely place.”
“I went there in the 70’s to have my psoriasis treated with UV light and the lamps were the size of massive golf balls, one either end of the room. A nurse would set a timer and when it buzzed she came in and told me to ‘TURN!’. I wasn’t going to argue! After that, I had a coal tar bath, there were no flys round me in the summer I can tell thee, then on with the cream, wrapped up in stocking bandages before being put on the bus (looking like a Michelin man). Back to Great Ayton in time to finish primary school. Lovely nurses though, really looked after me.”
“Three of my four children were born there in 1976 ,1979 and 1981. Lovely hospital and fantastic staff and just round the corner from my house .”
“My son was born there in 1981. I was booked into Parkside Hospital, but my son decided to enter the world a week early so Carter Bequest Hospital was where I delivered our son.”
“My mum was a staff nurse and then sister on the maternity ward from 1966 until 1986. She has fond memories of her time there. Many lovely patients, babies and staff. I remember going on Christmas day one year to help with patients’ teas.”
“My daughter was born there in 1984. The staff were lovely and my week in there passed quickly thanks to their attentiveness”
“My son, Will was born there in 1976. Very happy memories – lovely staff and atmosphere. I was very happy to stay in for ten days!”
“I was in the maternity wing in ’73, ’82, ’85 and ’86. I was well looked after. They made sure you knew how to look after your baby before they let you out in those days.”
“I used to go there for “sunlight treatment” in the late 60’s. half an hour on the bus for a minute under a sun lamp!”
“My daughter was born there in 1978 much better than the General where my son was born”
“I was told to strip and lie on the bed for an examination by the doctor. I duly did and waited. Six hours later I was woken up by the cleaner who said everyone had gone home and they had forgotten about me. Makes me laugh now.”
“I had my youngest son in maternity unit in October 1971.It was a lovely unit and we were looked after very well by staff. I’ll never forget the Sister who delivered my son. She wouldn’t go off duty till he was born. Happy days.”
“I came back to Middlesbrough from Pennsylvania for the birth of my second child in 1971. The nurses were very kind, matron very strict. Excellent care. I remember men visiting their wives with bottles of beer. My nephew was born in the same ward six weeks earlier. Baby delivered by a midwife who had just returned from India.”
“Two of my three children were born there. One in 1959 when I was only 17, they were very good to me I think one of the staff was called Sister Shepherd, my youngest daughter was born there in 1967, my middle child a son was a home birth. The wards were very well run and clean and tidy and were regularly checked by Matron.”
“I was one of the last children to be born in it’s maternity ward at 1.15pm on April 17 1987. My friend Richard Simpson was born there on 22 April 1987. My mam told me his mam was going into the hospital as she was coming out.”